History of the Lotz House
The Lotz House, which has been on the National Historic Register since 1976, is located in the heart of downtown historic Franklin, Tennessee at “epicenter” of the Battle of Franklin which was a pivotal battle in the Civil War on November 30, 1864.
In 1855, German immigrant Johann Albert Lotz , purchased 5 acres of land from Fountain Branch Carter. Three years later, after doing most of the work himself, Lotz completed his home in 1858. By trade, Mr. Lotz was a master carpenter and a piano maker. He also repaired guitars and violins. His home, served as his “show house” to demonstrate his carpentry work to potential clients interested in hiring him for his services. The three fireplace mantles demonstrated his range from simple to very complex designs. There are also several battle scars including the charred rounded indention in the wood flooring where a cannonball flew through the roof, a second story bedroom and landed on the first floor and rolled.
In addition, the home has an impressive solid black walnut stair hand rail that starts on the ground floor and wraps all the way around and up to the second floor. To accomplish this engineering feat in the mid 19 th century is truly remarkable. What’s more, the newel post at the bottom of the staircase is actually an inverted leg of one Mr. Lotz ’ pianos. The outside of the home is a testament to Mr. Lotz ’ talent. All the hand carved acorn finials, millwork and cartouches were constructed by Lotz .
The Lotz Family During The Battle of Franklin
When the Lotz family awakened on the morning of November 30, in effect the Union Line had been established in their front yard! Mr. Lotz , fearing that his family, his wife Margaretha, his sons Paul and Augustus and daughter Matilda would not survive the battle in their “wooden
plank house,” they sought refuge in the brick basement of the Carter House, a home across the street. For 17 hours, while the horrific battle raged all around them, the Lotz along with 20 other people remained safe and survived. When they exited the basement the next morning, they were horrified to see the bodies of dead soldiers “so thick that you couldn’t take a step without walking on one of them” between The Carter House and their home across the street, just 110 steps away. Indeed, historians describe the fighting that took place at the Battle of Franklin and in the Lotz front yard “some of the most severe hand to hand fighting during the four year long war.” When the dust had settled the body count would be staggering. Ten thousand Americans had been killed, wounded or missing.
The Lotz house served as a hospital for the wounded soldiers on both sides until the following summer. To this day, one can step into the Lotz House and see numerous blood stains in all of the rooms. The house itself suffered severe battle damage, but as the structure served as Lotz ’ “show house,” he was quick to make repairs. However, some of the battle scars do remain. During the battle a solid shot cannon ball crashed through the roof, smashing into the floor of an upstairs bedroom and down to the first floor. The large repaired patch made by Mr. Lotz remains in the second floor, as well as the first floor where the cannon ball finally came to rest where one can clearly see where the hot lead ball first hit, burning the floor then rolled.
Decorative and Fine Arts
Wendell Garrett, editor at large at The Magazine Antiques said, “This collection of antiques is by far the finest private collection of American Victorian Furniture in the Southeast.”
While on the guided tour of the Lotz House, visitors will learn about the history of many of the antiques and furnishings. Some of the most exquisite examples of John Henry Belter and Prudent Mallard furniture from the 1820’s – 1860’s are on display. An extraordinary collection of Old Paris Porcelain pieces including an historic peach and cream colored formal set of dishes from which 3 United States presidents used at The Bedford Springs Hotel in Bedford Pennsylvania.
While visitors may be familiar with Audubon paintings and prints, they may not be aware that John James Audubon actually painted from birds he captured and mounted to examine them in their more natural form. The Lotz House features an incredible display of Audubon’s stuffed birds placed under their original glass dome. The Lotz House is currently not aware of any other surviving examples of his taxidermy work.
Lotz House Features
The Lotz House is the perfect complimentary companion to The Carter House, Historic Carnton Plantation and the McGavock Confederate Cemetery . It takes only 110 short steps to walk from the front door of the Lotz House to the front door of the Carter House located directly across the street, and Carnton is just one mile away.
Appraisal Services: One of the services offered at the Lotz House is personal property appraisals, specializing in antique, decorative and fine art appraisals. Clients include attorneys, accountants, insurance companies, charitable organizations and the general public. Check the website for an upcoming schedule of appraisal fairs which will be open to the public.
Museum Shop: The Museum Shop is well stocked with unique, intriguing gifts and souvenirs awaiting discovery. A wide selection of items commemorate each visit, including a variety of one of a kind antiques and collectibles as well as meticulously crafted items from local artisans. Also featured are an array of DVD ’s & VHS Tapes, prints and books, about The Battles of Franklin and Nashville , the Civil War and history in general. Relics are also on display in the Museum Shop for viewing.
Thomas Cartwright's Battlefield Walking Tours
Thomas Cartwright , one of the nation’s leading authorities on the Battle of Franklin now offers the “Battlefield Walking Tours” which originates at The Lotz House. Cartwright, well-known internationally for his knowledge and passion for the Civil War and the Battle of Franklin, will walk the battlefield with enthusiasts while recounting the steps and the stories of the historic battle held on November 30, 1864 .
This provides an amazing opportunity for those yearning for the unique experience of actually walking in the steps of the soldiers, hearing the gripping stories and understanding the feelings of the soldiers from the ultimate authority on the Battle of Franklin.
Cartwright is often seen on the History Channel and quoted in national publications on the topic of the Civil War and the significant role played in the Battle of Franklin. He most recently was Executive Director of The Carter House, located across the street from the Lotz House, where he worked for nearly 20 years.
Cartwright said, "It is a great honor to help in keeping the memory of those brave Americans alive. I am grateful to be allowed to tell the stories of some of the bravest men the world has ever known."
Hours of Operation
Monday thru Saturday - 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday – 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Thomas Cartwright ’s Battlefield Tours are held on Thursdays and Saturdays or by making a reservation at the Lotz House. $25 Charge or special packages or private tours available. Guests begin the walking tour at the Lotz House.
Seniors (over 65): $9.00
Children 6 – 12: $6.00
Children under 5: free
AAA Member discount available.
Please call for group rates.
For More Information:
1111 Columbia Avenue
Franklin , TN 37064